Mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California

A college country night at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California, turned deadly late Wednesday when a gunman forced his way in and opened fire on the young people gathered there. At least 12 people were killed.

This image made from aerial video show officers around a Police SUV in the vicinity of a shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, early Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. Authorities say there were multiple injuries – including one officer – after a man opened fire in Southern California bar late Wednesday. (KABC via AP)

How the shooting unfolded

The first call of shots fired came in to police Wednesday around 11:20 p.m. PT (2:20 a.m. ET, Thursday), Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean and a department spokesman said.

The gunman shot a bouncer or security guard outside and forced his way into the bar, witnesses said. The gunman also shot a young woman working at the counter just inside the door, several witnesses said.

“I see that girl every single time I’m there,” witness Holden Harrah told CNN, fighting back tears. “I don’t know her name, but (she) is someone I make small contact with and I say hi every time.”

Officers arrived on the scene 2 to 3 minutes after the initial call to law enforcement as shots continued to ring out, Dean said.

A few minutes later, Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer entered the bar after hearing shots, Dean said.

As they entered through the front door, Helus was hit by multiple bullets, Dean said. The highway patrol officer stepped back, pulled Helus from the line of fire and secured his post until more officers arrived.
People comfort each other as they stand near the scene Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, in Thousand Oaks, Calif. where a gunman opened fire Wednesday inside a country dance bar crowded with hundreds of people on “college night,” wounding 11 people including a deputy who rushed to the scene. Ventura County sheriff’s spokesman says gunman is dead inside the bar. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The gunman

The shooter, using a short-barreled handgun, wore a black trench coat and eyeglasses and had a black beard, witnesses said.

The shooter was found dead at the scene, officials said. It’s not yet clear whether he shot himself or was killed by police.

Authorities believe they have identified the suspect, a law enforcement source told CNN midmorning Thursday. The suspect is believed to be 29 years old, the source said, cautioning that the investigation is still in its early stages.

“We don’t know anything about him yet,” Dean had said earlier Thursday.

Identifying the suspect and determining a motive is “priority one” for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, spokesman Cpt. Garo Kuredjian told CNN affiliate KABC.

The victims

At least 12 people were killed, including Helus, a 29-year law enforcement veteran.

Helus, who was set to retire within the next year, was shot multiple times as he entered the bar with a California Highway Patrol officer, Dean said.

The victims’ ages weren’t immediately known, though it’s estimated most were between 21 and 26 years old because “this is a nightclub,” he said.

Several other victims were wounded or sustained minor injuries trying to escape the shooting, Dean said.

The bar

Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks is a western-themed establishment known to regularly host country, salsa and swing dancing nights.

The venue was hosting a college country night from 9 p.m. PT on Wednesday to 2 a.m. on Thursday when the shooting occurred, according to its website. Hundreds of people were estimated to have attended.

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